QUECHEE — A memorial service for Viola “Toby” Dorothy Gericke Watson, 91, who died Jan. 14 will be held at the Quechee Community Church Jan. 19 at 1 p.m. with a reception to follow at the Quechee Club.
She was born in Algoma, Wis., daughter of Walter Augustus Zacharias Gericke and Jesse Vanessa Baillet Gericke on April 4, 1921.
She grew up on the family farm in Florence, Wis., where she began her education in the one room schoolhouse that served the children of the neighborhood. From there, she went on to the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point where she received her Bachelor of Science in Education.
During World War II, she served her country by working in an aircraft factory, a true “Rosie The Riveter.” She taught in Wisconsin and met her husband Frederick Watson while attending graduate school at the University of Colorado, Boulder. They married on July 8, 1950 in Racine, Wis.
As a newlywed, Viola moved east with her husband, teaching school in Scarsdale, N.Y. and New Canaan, Conn., in 1955 they moved to Redding, Conn., where they lived for over 20 years and where Toby taught at the John Read Middle School. She also received an MS in Education from Western Connecticut State University. She also was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, professional honorary society of women educators. Toby’s special interest was in outdoor education where she developed an entire curriculum, exposing many children to the wonders of the natural environment. Her love for the outdoors continued throughout her life, and combined with her enthusiasm for travel even included a balloon expedition across the Serengeti. She could identify almost every bird and wild flower in Vermont and loved kayaking and canoeing.
Toby and Fred Watson moved to Quechee 27 years ago as one of the early landowners at Quechee Lakes. Since that time, Toby Watson has been an active member of the Upper Valley Community.
In addition to attending concerts throughout the region, often in the company of her special friend Bill Dollard, she was well known for helping others and for her volunteerism. One of her most recent volunteer jobs was serving as a receptionist in the radiology department at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital. She volunteered at VINS, she was a charter member of the Quechee Garden Club, served on the Library Board during the time that the current library was established, and helped to found the Friends of the Quechee Library. Toby loved to spend time with friends and family, often playing Quiddler, cribbage, dominoes, and even Wii bowling.
Toby was a member of the Quechee Community Church. As a church member, she supported almost every event from the yard sale to preparing the candles for the Christmas Eve service.
She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Drs. Jack and Laurie Rush of Clayton, N.Y.; grandchildren, Kimberly and Elizabeth Rush, Lt. Andrew and Caitland Rush Sheahan, Brandon Rush; and her son, Stuart Watson and his partner, Deborah Reichel of Mesa Ariz.
Toby was predeceased by her beloved husband Fred on May 25, 1988; and her grandson Benjamin Rush in 1997.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Quechee Community Church, the Upper Valley Haven, or the Quechee Library.
Condolences may also be expressed to Toby’s family and friends in an online guestbook at www.knightfuneralhomes.com
This obituary first appeared in the January 17, 2013 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
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